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Why 4.8 > 4.97 in marketing

Everyone’s favorite Abe Lincoln quote goes a little something like this: 

“Men lie. Women lie. Numbers don’t. Also, don’t believe everything you read on the internet.” 

Lincoln was truly ahead of his time. 

Jokes aside, last week I was on a call with my client and a guy from the review-gathering software we use to, well, get reviews for his products. 

While we were going through some of our recent reviews, we decided to look at a few one of the one-star reviews. Most biz owners you talk to, especially those in the ecom world, dread one-star reviews. For bad reason. 

Not only is every one-star review a gift to your company, your emails, and yes, your bottom line, but one-star reviews also have a couple of unintended benefits: 

First, they’re low enough to bring down your aggregate reviews by a couple of notches. (More on why this is a good thing later.) 

Second, they signal to bad customers to avoid your brand while simultaneously making good customers more eager to whip out their credit cards and buy your stuff. 

Anyway, while we were browsing through one-star reviews, we noticed a few that should’ve been five-star reviews, but somehow were one-star reviews. 

For example, someone left a one-star review but exclaimed how incredible the service was, how simple it was to place an order, and what a bundle of joy it was to buy from my client. 

Turns out, this software has the ability to retroactively turn one-star reviews like this—reviews that were an obvious mistake and should’ve been five stars or at least four stars—into five-star reviews. 

When the review software guy mentioned this to my client, my client said the following (which filled me to the brim with pride): 

“No, we want to keep those. It brings what would otherwise be a 4.97 aggregate star down to a 4.8 one.” 

Why did this fill your Humble Narrator with pride you ask? 

Simple, cully: 

A 4.8 star review is more trustworthy than a 4.97 star review. 

In fact, (I think) researchers have proven that a 4.5 star review is the most trustworthy aggregate review score you can get in the five-star system. 

Sounds counterintuitive, and it disproves the Lincoln quote from above. But it’s true. 


Well, the only companies who can command a 5.0 stars from all of their reviews are either brand-spanking-new, and only have a handful of reviews. Or they’re lying and doctoring reviews or writing completely fake reviews to see like they’re bigger than they are. (Yes, I know companies who actively do this shady practice without even realizing that it makes them look less trustworthy, not more.) 

That’s why you should cherish the occasional one-star review (even if it was an accident). 

As for anyone leaving your brand a one-star review on purpose, the second point I made above stands. 

And you can even sprinkle a little bit of kerosene on these by having a special email only sale for every one-star review you get. Not only does this signal for bad customers to stay away, but it attracts good customers to buy your stuff, try it, and leave an honest review. And you can make a bunch more sales quickly when stuff like this comes in… As long as you have the cajones to share a few one-star reviews with your list instead of shying away from it like they’re skeletons in your closet. 

It’s much more profitable and enjoyable to make your skeleton dance than pretend it doesn’t exist. 

Got a bunch of one-star reviews lately and want to turn it into a reason for your list to buy? Or just need help building an email marketing strategy that makes people addicted to your content? 

Hit reply, and let’s set up a call. 


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